Posted by Laraine on August 18, 1997 at 11:32:49:
In reply to Re: Epistle style writing posted by LauraN on August 17, 1997 at 19:30:15
...Two of the novels in epistle form that I have read are Samuel Richardson's Pamela and Frances Burney's Evelina. (Incidentally, both Richardson's and Burney's works were favored by Jane Austen) ... This novel was supposedly based on real events, adding another dimension to the reading. Evelina is funny at times and is very well written. It is interesting that Evelina's author changed, as Jane Austen did, from the epistolary form of writing to the pure novel format in the three novels following Evelina (which was her first novel).
] I hope this helps - both Pamela and Evelina are very good and I recommend them highly. Samuel Richardson wrote another novel (very long, but it was his most popular work) in epistle form - Clarissa. I have not finished it, but so far it is very good. Henry Fielding wrote a parody of Richardson's Pamela, called "Shamela" and it is, I believe, written in epistolary form. Frances Burney's other novels (Cecilia, Camilla, and The Wanderer) were not written in epistolary form, but they are well worth reading.
] I guess I've gone on long enough for now (this being my first post at Pemberley). I hope this all makes sense!
How nice that you chose to post here first, Laura. :-)
I've read the books you mention (Pamela, Shamela, and Evelina). I tried several times to read Clarissa, but never got very far. I know people who adore it, though. Of the ones you've mentioned, I like Evelina the most. Shamela was a hoot.
I think epistolary novels require a certain greater suspension of disbelief for 20th century types because it was a conventional form that died out and the conventions sort of stick out to us. The first time I read Pamela, I found it silly, mainly for some of the reasons already brought up--How is Pamela supposed to be continuing to write letters when she can't mail them, hiding them about her person would make her about 7 feet wide before long, etc., and the absurdities in the plot all sort of got on my nerves--but it was fun in some ways and it's definitely worth the time, considering how much Austen admired Richardson, I guess I'd say read it first. But prepare yourself for some absurdity with less irony than JA manages. I'd have to say that of the epistolary novels I've read, Lady Susan is my favorite.
I have to say that I'm glad P&P and S&S didn't end as epistolary novels. I like them the way they are...
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